(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex) released the following statement in response to the resignation of Corrections Ombudsman Dan DiBenedetti, which comes a day after the joint hearing of the Assembly Judiciary and Assembly Women and Children Committees regarding recent incidents and treatment of women incarcerated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility:
“The passage of the Dignity Act granted New Jersey the ability to create the strongest corrections oversight entity in the nation. Yesterday’s hearing cemented the reality that the office was not living up to the expectations or authority with which it has been vested.
“The Office of the Corrections Ombudsman, buttressed by the Dignity Act, is a body designed to specifically act as an impartial ally for the prisoner community at large. It is granted with the powers to investigate and resolve all manners of complaints. Based on yesterday’s hearing, it’s clear the issues of abuse are historic, systemic and urgent, warranting our immediate attention to ensure prisoners are protected and guaranteed a rehabilitative prison experience.
“I look forward to working with new leadership to realize the full potential of the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman. I stand with prisoners, advocates, survivors and the formerly incarcerated in seeing the opportunity a renewed office can bring to enact transformative change.
“Our work is still not done, but with new leadership and perspective in the Office of the Corrections Ombudsman, we are one step closer to changing the culture of abuse and ensuring our prisoners are treated with dignity and respect.”